Confession time: I like costumes.
All types of costumes, really. Theater, historical, Halloween (though I have issue with the Halloween costume industry, but that’s another post entirely). I like dressing up. In the right situations, I enjoy being someone else for the day. And since my general likes also tend toward the geekish, I enjoy situations with costumes that are also geekish. I love the Renaissance Faire. I dress up to go there. I dress up on Halloween if I have someplace to go. And yes, I dress up to go to conventions.
For anyone that’s not “in the know”, I’ll explain. It’s called cosplay, and yes, it’s the people you see dressed up as characters from comic books, movies, tv, and more. Especially at places like ComicCon and other similar conventions. It’s the people that get made fun of quite a bit, especially on shows like Leno, where the cosplayers are presented as weirdos and/or people with no social lives. Which really, is the farthest thing from the truth (and the bullying annoys me to no end). Not only are there large, tight-knit networks of friends, but they’re made up of people that have huge amounts of talent. The skill and creativity it takes to put together good costumes is mind boggling. I’ve seen video of an Iron Man suit that is automated and looks nearly identical to the movie suit. That takes talent.
I am not quite so ambitious, and my cosplays have been confined to much smaller source material. If I walk down the street in costume, very few people are going to know who I’m supposed to be. But within conventions, there are those that know, and those that appreciate the time and effort that goes into that transformation. It’s fun. Especially when you get an entire group together to fill out a cast. Fun and satisfying.
But it’s also stressful. At least for me. Getting things as perfect as possible is anxiety-making. The time deadlines can be tough (especially if you’re a procrastinator like me). Actually getting to the convention (dealing with badges and tickets and hotels and whatnot) is also crazy. You can pretty much guarantee that nothing is ever going to go completely smoothly, and sometimes it’ll be downright rocky. Like, the sharp rocks at the bottom of a huge waterfall. And as with anything in your life, you need to weigh what is and isn’t worth it.
Cosplay is a great creative outlet, and I even impress myself sometimes with what I’m able to come up with. I was able to take an old work blazer that I hadn’t worn in years and made it into a bolero type jacket with giant cuffs! But when I’m working on cosplay, I’m not working on anything else. I’m not making prints or books or cards or magnets. (And if I’m being stubborn about starting on a costume, then I’m not working on anything.) Which is a problem when (like this May) I have a show the week directly following a convention. What becomes the priority then?
I like costumes.
But I love art.
My art. The art that I love to work on. The art that keeps me going. The art that I need in order to feel like I’m me. And so (because I still have to balance it with my pay-the-bills job and taking care of myself and a million other things), I have to look at where my time and energy needs to go. And in the end, I suppose it’s not that difficult of a decision. It goes where my love goes.
And so at the convention I just came home from, I have just done my last cosplay. Maybe not for forever. But for a while. A while where I can turn my attention more toward making my own things again. I’ll most likely still hit the Renaissance Faire (though how I manage to enjoy being outside in multiple layers in the middle of summer when I’m normally an indoor kind of gal will forever baffle even me). I might still go to wander around a convention in “civilian” clothes – especially to spend my time in Artists Alley. And I’ll probably still dress up on Halloween. But my cosplay days are on hold.
Is it an easy decision? Not at all. But it’s the right one for now, and the one I have to make.